Food manufacturing companies are being invited to join a top-level working group tasked with setting out a strategy for boosting engineering skills in the industry.
The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing, part of food and drink sector skills council Improve, wants to bring together employers and leading specialists in engineering training to look at how the development of engineering skills in the industry can evolve to drive up productivity and profits.
Justine Fosh, director of skills solutions at Improve and the National Skills Academy, told delegates at the Appetite for Engineering conference in Hinckley, Leicestershire that setting out a vision for developing world-class, multi-skilled engineers in the food industry would be vital to its future prosperity.
“As more and more technology is introduced into food processing and manufacturing, the importance of engineering is going to increase,” she said. “We need a new breed of multi-skilled engineers, possibly trained to a higher level than has been in the norm in the past, to make sure the industry can keep pace with the rapid pace of change in that technology.
“As well as improving the skills of the workforce, organisations need to ensure that there are clear and proactive planned maintenance schedules in place, otherwise an organisation’s ability to improve productivity, say through the implementation of lean manufacturing, is severely limited.”
Justine said the new group would be asked to look at where engineering skills are most needed in the food industry now and in the future, identify any issues with the current provision of training, and work with providers to develop flexible training solutions which can be applied to suit individual businesses across different sectors.
“I would encourage any employers to get in touch as their contribution will provide a vital insight into how engineering skills can best be utilized in food and drink businesses. That insight will allow us to develop a strategy geared towards the needs of employers, and delivered through the specialist training providers we have as members of the Academy’s engineering and maintenance network.
“We are an ambitious industry, and I know employers are ambitious about making the UK a world leader in developing newer, greener, more efficient methods of producing, processing and distributing food. To fulfill that vision, we need the talent and ability to develop and implement cutting edge technology. Instead of relying on engineers trained in other disciplines, we want to make the UK food and drink industry a hotbed of home-grown talent technological innovation which will set a new standard across the globe.”
If you would like more information about getting involved with shaping the future of engineering training in the food and drink industry, please contact Jonathan Cooper on 0845 6440558, or E-mail: [Email protected].